Melittin inhibits osteoclast formation through the downregulation of the RANKL-RANK signaling pathway and the inhibition of interleukin-1β in murine macrophages

Jung-Yoon Choe, Seong-Kyu Kim
International Journal of Molecular Medicine 2017, 39 (3): 539-548
Melittin is a major toxic component of bee venom (Apis mellifera). It is not known whether melittin is involved in bone metabolism and osteoclastogenesis. The aim of this study was to determine the role of melittin in the regulation of osteoclastogenesis. In vitro osteoclastogenesis assays were performed using mouse RAW 264.7 cells and bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMMs) treated with receptor activator of nuclear factor-κB ligand (RANKL) and macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF). Morphologic and functional analyses for osteoclast-like multinucleated cells (MNCs) were performed by tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase (TRAP) staining, F-actin staining and pit formation methods. The gene expression of TRAP, cathepsin K, matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) and carbonic anhydrase II was measured by reverse transcription-quantitative PCR. The protein expression levels of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), the p65 subunit of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), c-Fos, c-Jun, nuclear factor of activated T cells, cytoplasmic 1 (NFATc1), TNF receptor-associated factor-6 (TRAF6), and interleukin-1β (IL-1β) were assessed by western blot analysis. Melittin inhibited the mRNA expression of TRAP, cathepsin K, MMP-9 and carbonic anhydrase II in RANKL-stimulated RAW 264.7 cells. The increased protein expression of TRAF6, p-extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), p-JNK, p-p65, p-c-Fos and NFATc1 induced by RANKL was significantly suppressed in the RAW 264.7 cells treated with melittin. A synergistic effect of IL-1β on the formation of RANKL-induced osteoclast-like MNCs was found in two experimental cells. The increased expression of IL-1β following the stimulation of RAW 264.7 cells with RANKL activated TRAF6, p-ERK, p-JNK, p-p65, p-c-Fos and NFATc1. These effects were attenuated by the downregulation of IL-1β using siRNA against IL-1β, and also by treatment with melittin. On the whole, the findings of this study demonstrate that melittin inhibits the formation of osteoclast-like MNCs by interfering with the RANKL-RANK signaling pathway.

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